Kiwis fully ready for Indian challenge: Ross

Published: Tuesday, July 22, 2003, 22:55 [IST]
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New Delhi: Despite uncertainties over the availability of regular coach John Bracewell and some of the key players for the upcoming tour of India, New Zealand's stand-in coach Ashley Ross on Tuesday said his side was fully ready to face the challenges in the sub-continent.

Ross, who is likely to take over Bracewell's role during the tour, said all the players are in peak form which can help the side achieve what they have not done in their previous seven attempts -- winning a Test series in India.

"This side has played extremely well away from home in recent years. We won in Sri Lanka, we won our first series last year in the West Indies and when we toured England in 1999 we won that series and the bulk of players from those teams are still together. We have a very good record in Asia recently," Ross told the Wisden Cricinfo website. "We have been working very hard on our ability to play spin by approaching it in a more methodical way and in the way we approach each bowler."

"There has been a real move forward in our batsmen. Stephen Fleming, Mark Richardson, Scott Styris, who was on his debut tour to Asia, and Jacob Oram, all had good scores in Sri Lanka and the batting of the side has come of age, and our spinners also showed out," he said. During the tour, New Zealand would be looking to better their record in India as they are yet to win a Test series here in their seven previous appearances. Bracewell may not be on the tour, but his inputs will be there as Ross expects to be in close consultation with his senior before the side leaves on September 23. Besides Bracewell, batting mainstay Nathan Astle and fast bowler Shane Bond are also not fully fit for the tour.

But Ross said if the two were unable to tour, there were players available with international experience who could be chosen. He also said the team was preparing in right earnest for the upcoming challenge. There is a prospect that New Zealand could prepare for its tour by travelling to India earlier than intended, or by stopping in northern Australia before travelling on to India. Currently the team is undergoing training at New Zealand Cricket's High Performance Centre where conditions are similar to that of India and which had proved very effective in coping with foreign conditions.

"It is a tough and difficult environment in India and our training will be reflective of that," Ross said. New Zealand will play two Test matches and a triangular series, also involving world champions Australia, during their tour of India. Despite doubts surrounding Kanpur hosting one of the Test matches, Ross said the choice of venue hardly bothered his players. "When they bowl the first ball of the Test series, whether it is in Mohali, Kanpur, Nagpur or Ahmedabad, we will be ready."

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